BROSSARD - The Habs had a short, up-tempo practice at the Bell Sports Complex before heading to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers on Thursday.
Rest and recover: Left winger Max Pacioretty and defenseman Josh Gorges didn't practice Wednesday morning, but both players are healthy and will be ready to face the Flyers on Thursday. With a jam-packed December schedule, coach Michel Therrien has allowed his players to get all the rest and therapy they need in order to perform.
“The schedule has been busy recently, and the coaching staff is doing a great job balancing rest and practice days,” offered captain Brian Gionta, who was on the ice for practice.
For Gionta, it’s more important to think long-term rather than get too caught up in the one-sided loss to the Kings on Tuesday night.
“At the end of the day, you have to look at the couple of weeks that we’ve had, and focus on what’s still ahead. If we can come out and win the next three games this week, the loss would just go unnoticed. It’s just about not letting things snowball and getting back on track as soon as possible,” he added.
Second life: Daniel Briere, who spent six season in Philadelphia, will be returning to Wells Fargo Center for the first time since being bought out by the Flyers in the summer of 2013. While Briere has already faced off against his former team once at the Bell Centre, he knows there will be nothing brotherly or loving about the welcome he is bound to receive in Philly.
“I’m expecting both the best and the worst from the fans. I’ve been treated in different ways by the crowd during my career, so I’m ready for pretty much anything,” explained Briere, who is looking forward to playing in front of friends and family. “I’ll have a chance to play in front of my kids and a few good friends, so it’ll be easy to find the motivation to do well.”
Though the Canadiens had a convincing 4-1 home win against the Flyers earlier this season, Briere knows his former teammates are on the upswing, and the game will be anything but easy for the Habs.
“We’re playing against a totally different team than at the start of the season,” he insisted regarding the team now coached by Craig Berube rather than Peter Laviolette, who was behind the bench during the early-season game at the Bell Center. “It won’t be an easy game, especially at their rink in front of their fans.”
Learning from the best: Practice is all about powerplays, penalty kills, faceoffs and breakouts. Still, one can ill afford to neglect the more physical parts of hockey. At the end of practice, two apprentice pugilists stopped by for a fighting clinic with Brandon Prust, the team’s resident middleweight champ.
“I don’t know whether we can call that a class. It’s not the first time he’s tried to show me a few things, but he’s not really a great teacher,” joked Alex Galchenyuk, who was on the receiving end of Prust’s jersey tugs before the veteran turned his attention to P.K. Subban. “It only lasted one round today, but I’ll get him back. I told him we have a game tomorrow and that he shouldn’t beat me up too much. He got a few good shots in so it was a good time to stop.”
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
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